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North Island

Cruises & Boat Tours

Our most recommended North Island Cruises & Boat Tours

Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

1. Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

Discover New Zealand's natural wonder of Waitomo Glowworm Caves on a guided boat trip. Glide by boat through this underground complex, watching millions of tiny bioluminescent insects lighting up the rocky limestone. Explore this cave complex, including a chance to visit the Cathedral Cave on foot. The caves were formed over 30 million years ago and comprise 2 levels. The upper level is dry and includes the entrance to the cave and formations known as the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ, and the Banquet Chamber. On the lower level are stream passages and the Cathedral. Begin on foot as your local guide brings the caves to life with stories about their history. Then, board a boat and marvel at the light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto.

From Paihia or Russell: Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise

2. From Paihia or Russell: Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise

Embark on a catamaran tour of the Bay of Islands from Paihia or Russell. Enjoy insightful commentary as you visit famous sights, including the "Hole in the Rock" and make a stop at Urupukapuka Island. Board your vessel in Paihia or Russell and glide out through the islands. Cruise along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse watches over the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’.  The natural sculpture, one of New Zealand's most popular attractions, was created from centuries of sea and wind erosion. According to Maori legend, local warriors paddled through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof were a good omen. Take in the Grand Cathedral Cave before heading back into the bay. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales, and other marine life.  Cruise in comfort aboard the Dolphin Seeker with indoor and outdoor seating and the Bay of Island's largest outdoor viewing decks. Treat yourself to snacks and a licensed bar on board, or enjoy the Otehei Bar Café and Bar on Urupukapuka Island.

Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

3. Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

Float down an underground river, slip into fast waters, jump off a small waterfall and take in the magic of the glowworm grotto of Ruakuri Cave on this Black Labyrinth adventure. Put on your gear and learn from professionally trained guides that will take you ziplining, rafting, and caving.  Check in for your black water adventure in Waitomo. Get all your equipment and instructions from your guide before you begin the subterranean journey. Leap over cascading waterfalls and weave and climb through a glowworm-studded wonderland. After an energized trip, float serenely down the underground river. Enjoy the glow worm show on the vaulted limestone galleries up above. Ride a stream that twists and turns through a canyon, and tumble down a hidden waterfall and rock slide before emerging into the sun-dappled Waitomo forest. The rafting base is located a short distance outside Waitomo Caves village. This is the booking and assembly point for all black water rafting expeditions. It is also the home of the Long Black Cafe, where you'll find delicious food, coffee, and friendly Kiwi service. 

Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 1.5-Hour Scenic Cruise

4. Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 1.5-Hour Scenic Cruise

Cruise through the crystal-clear, turquoise waters of Lake Taupo, taking in the vibrancy of Maori culture all the while. After boarding your cruise, explore the stunning surroundings of the lake, surrounded by rugged mountains and lush trees on the banks. As you glide through the lake on your deluxe Catamaran, you’ll come to a massive carving depicting the traditional facial tattooing of the Maori people. Inspired by centuries of rich Maori tradition, artist Matahi Brightwell carved the elaborate relief into the side of a cliff directly above the lake’s pristine waters in 1980. Depicting one of his grandmother’s ancestors, the carving represent a triumph of Maori artistry, and the continued preservation of indigenous culture. Perfect for the whole family, after taking in the carving, you can feed the ducks, and maybe even catch a fish. After 1.5 hours, you’ll head back to the dock to disembark.

Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise

5. Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise

Admire beautiful Māori rock carvings set against a stunning mountainous backdrop on a 1.5-hour journey around Lake Taupo's waters aboard a boat that features live audio commentary. Relax and enjoy coffee or tea and a homemade muffin as you admire panoramic views of New Zealand, picturesque mountain tops, and historic rock carvings inspired by centuries of rich Māori tradition and art. Explore the open decks that allow you to feel the cool outdoor breeze or cozily snuggle into one of the indoor booths, and enjoy a trout fishing demonstration by the crew — you may even get a "taste of Taupo" if all goes well.

Hukafalls: 30-Minute Jet Boat Experience

6. Hukafalls: 30-Minute Jet Boat Experience

Your thrilling adventure will take you along the beautiful Waikato river environment, lined with native bush, sheer rock cliff faces, and natural hot springs. Enjoy the best water-level view of Huka Falls from the unique vantage point on the jet boat. The manoeuvrability of the Hukafalls jet boat is legendary. Be in awe at the speed and precision in which you torpedo gracefully down the river to play in the tail of the mighty whitewater of the Huka Falls. Pass by clouds of steam rising where a hot stream joins the river. See the Huka Prawn Park, the Wairakei Geo-Thermal Power Station, and the Aratiatia Dam. Zoom past sheer rock cliffs with just centimeters to spare, exhilarated and secure in the knowledge that your driver is an expert.

Whitianga: Cathedral Cove 2 Hour Boat Cruise

7. Whitianga: Cathedral Cove 2 Hour Boat Cruise

Based in Whitianga, this scenic boat cruise showcases Mercury Bay’s stunning coastal paradise at its very best. Embark on a 2-hour journey across the rugged volcanic shores of the bay and explore its beautiful beaches including Hahei and Lonely Bay. The highlight of the tour is the world-famous Cathedral Cove at Te Whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve. The site has a rich Maori heritage, attracts around 150,000 visitors per year, and was used as a filming location for the blockbuster movie Narnia. Sit back and relax as you sail around the bay, and marvel at its stunning natural landscapes that stretch across the peninsula. Along the way, listen to your guide share entertaining live commentary about the bay and the wildlife that lives here. Make sure to keep an eye on the water too, as there's always a chance to see dolphins, whales and orcas in their natural habitat.

From Auckland: Waiheke Island Wineries' Tour

8. From Auckland: Waiheke Island Wineries' Tour

Start by hopping on a morning boat to Waiheke Island from Auckland’s Downtown Ferry Terminal, enjoying a 35-minute boat ride with views of historical Devonport and Rangitoto Island on the way.  Meet your guide once you reach the island, and head on your way to 4 of the island’s finest wineries. Savor tastings at each of the 4 wineries, with an extended lunch break for your own free time at one of them. As a bonus, see why the island is famous for its beaches and see the rolling hills of vines, with your guide’s commentary accompanying.  At the end of the tour, either choose to take a transfer back to the port for an afternoon ferry back to Auckland, or choose to remain in the village and stroll back to the ferry on a 15-minute walk.

Napier: Wine, Gin, & Craft Beer Tour with Included Tastings

9. Napier: Wine, Gin, & Craft Beer Tour with Included Tastings

Each winery will offer between 4-7 wines for a tasting split between reds and whites. Chardonnay is the dominant white wine variety produced in Hawkes Bay, but lovers of Sauvignon Blanc should not worry, as you'll also be tasting that at Mission Estate. Shiraz and Bordeaux blends are some of the dominant red varieties. The first estate winery you'll visit is Mission Estate, which was established in 1851. The tasting hall and associated restaurant are located in a two-story Victorian mansion that offers magnificent views over the vineyards. The next stop is the Urban Winery, located in the National Tobacco building, which is famous for its Art Nouveau architecture. This stop is optional if you wish to enjoy three craft beers of your choosing. Next door is the National Gin Distillery, where you'll get to taste five gins. Then, take a 15-minute drive past the orchards and vineyards of Esk Valley, arriving at Linden Estate. Linden produces only 60,000 bottles of wine split between 13 different varietals. This will be a seated tasting with a complimentary cheese board of New Zealand cheeses.  Afterward, travel back to Napier for drop-off in the early evening.

Napier: Cape Kidnappers Gannet, Nature & Sightseeing Tour

10. Napier: Cape Kidnappers Gannet, Nature & Sightseeing Tour

Discover Cape Kidnappers, the largest most accessible mainland gannet colony in the world. Witness the 20,000 gannets at the cape which are members of the Booby family, with distinctive black eye markings and a pale gold crown. Visitors to the colony will see adults and young nesting in serried rows carrying out their daily routine. In the air above your heads, these amazing birds with their 6-foot wingspan (2 m) swoop and dive as they bring back fish. On the ground, just a few feet away, the pairs preen and perform the dance of the gannets’ recognition ritual. The birds can be seen from September to early April. In September they return from their winter escape to build their nests ready for the arrival of the chicks during December and January. The chicks are then fattened up ready for their first and departing flight in late April when they go off on their annual ritual to warmer climates. After being driven to the Cape in an air-conditioned 4 x 4 coach there will be absolutely no walking required. You are taken right to within a few feet of these remarkable birds. Along the way, take in the breathtaking scenery of the geological landscapes and remarkable nature that this part of the country has to offer. Visit a production forest, view a predator-proof reserve and be accompanied by an experienced driver/guide who will provide a knowledgeable and insightful commentary throughout the tour.

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Other Sightseeing Options in North Island

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What people are saying about North Island

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 407 reviews

So much fun - jumping down waterfalls and riding in total darkness in parts to see the glow worms. The tour operator was hilarious and we felt so safe.

Gorgeous views of the rock carvings. Māori people have great skills and talents. Thank you for the free coffee, muffin, and friendly staff!

Very good guide man, very helpful, talkative, very nice person and very good organiser chloe, help me beyond the limit. Thanks Mrs Bhosale

Corey was a wonderful guide, kept us entertained and well informed. Funny too!

Great fun, hands on, very exciting and great views back across the city